Sorry about the late hour for posting this article. We had 14 people in my house yesterday, so it’s been a busy time. One visitor was my sister-in-law, and she blew me away with an Elvis goodie I just love. It’s a new product offered by the New York Times Store: THE KING — a boxed collection of 74 articles printed in the Times from 1956 to 2003. It’s so much fun to travel in the ‘way-back machine’ and read what the New York Times had to say about Elvis, particularly in the early years.
This nifty idea is presented like two thick regular newspaper sections. The first is styled like a commemorative supplement with a two-page cover story, “Elvis: The Music, the Legacy and the American Dream.” The front page of the other section is a duplication of page 1 of the New York Times on August 17, 1977, one day after Elvis died. Inside each section is a chronology of selected articles seamlessly woven together to appear as successive pages of a single newspaper. It is a truly unique idea, and the New York Times is to be commended for coming up with such a great concept.
Perhaps my enthusiasm for this item is inflated with the knowledge that I have come across something that will provide many topics for short Elvisblog articles and longer ones for Elvis…The Magazine. THE KING is a veritable gold mine for an Elvis writer.
On page 2 of the first newspaper section is a table of contents. Rather than starting at the beginning of the paper and just reading through it, I scanned the “Contents” and selected “Elvis The Pelvis” on page 5 as the first article I would read. When I got there, I could not find that title. However, I did find “Elvis Presley: Lack of Responsibility Is Shown By TV in Exploiting Teenagers.” A little more research revealed THE KING’s “Contents” used newly coined titles (or subject names) that were shorter and generally better. “Elvis The Pelvis” certainly beats that other long thing.
So, the editors’ decision to not show actual article titles in “Contents´ does make it more difficult to spot the stories, but it’s no big problem once you understand the set-up. Because the alternate titles are so much better, a comparison with the original titles should be fun. It will also give you a taste of what kinds of stories are in there.
Elvis movie reviews provide a great example, starting with his first. “Culture Take A Holiday” on the page became “Love Me Tender” in the “Contents.” If it sounds like the Times reviewer didn’t like Elvis or the movie, you are exactly right. It will be interesting to dissect that article. How about this change? “Double Feature on the Lowe’s Circuit” became “Jailhouse Rock.” They liked this movie a little better but still found plenty to gripe about. “Actor With Guitar” became “King Creole.” Elvis got a little respect on this one, but those Times critics were hard to please.
A lot of the Times reprints were commentaries, scholarly tomes and some serious babble. I don’t really care for Elvis articles that heavy, but the name changes interest me. “Pop: Presley’s Back, The Nice Are Leaving” became “Back With A Blast.” Now that was a big improvement. There is one article I am prepared to dislike. The title shows complete disdain for Elvis. Fortunately, “Hy whu-hawnt you, hy nee-heed you” was changed to “Rock Revival.”
There is one article where I think they should have stayed with the original title. “Presley Pure Showbiz in Aloha Hawaii” was not improved with the change to “On TV, in Hawaii.” On TV??? “Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii” was beamed by satellite to one billion people in forty countries.
Starting next week, we’ll take a close look at some of the New York Times archives about Elvis. Anyone interested in buying a copy of THE KING for $25 should check out:
© 2006 Philip R Arnold All Rights Reserved www.elvisblog.net